Should we be worried about an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack?


Obama and ‘experts’ wrongly measure North Korea’s nuclear intentions

From:,  by By R. James Woolsey and Dr. Peter Vincent Pry,  on Apr 24, 2016,  see the article HERE.  Emphasis is Garnet92’s.

N Korea satellite EMP

On March 9, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a paranoid psychopath, displayed a nuclear missile warhead he threatens to launch against the United States and its allies.

The public is being misled by the White House, some so-called “experts” and mainstream media casting doubt on whether the Great Leader’s threat is real. They claim North Korea has not demonstrated sufficient “miniaturization” of a nuclear weapon to be delivered by a missile.

However, defense and intelligence community officials warn North Korea probably already has nuclear armed missiles. The Defense Department’s 2016 report “Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea” warns that, in addition to medium-range missiles, they have six KN-08 mobile nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can strike the U.S. mainland.

Recently, the Pentagon warned North Korea rolled out a new longer-range ICBM, the KN-14, that can probably deliver a nuclear warhead to Chicago.

So the notion that we don’t have to worry about North Korean nuclear missiles because they cannot “miniaturize” warheads is a myth. Adm. William Gortney, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is correct to presume that is the case and to prepare to defend against that threat, as he said last October.

Technologically, “miniaturizing” a nuclear warhead is much easier than developing an atomic bomb or a multi-stage missile for orbiting satellites — as North Korea has already done. Ever since the USSR orbited Sputnik in 1957, analysts have rightly credited any nation that has tested nuclear weapons and orbited satellites with the capability to make a nuclear missile warhead.

Miniaturization was no huge obstacle to the United States.

According to the “Nuclear Weapon Archive” just a few years after destroying Hiroshima with an A-Bomb weighing 9,700 pounds, the U.S. Army had the T-1, a man-carried atomic landmine weighing 150 pounds.

In 1958, the United States developed its first ICBM warhead, the W49 for the Atlas, in about one year. Development could have been faster without USAF stalling because it preferred bombers, according to Edmund Beard’s book “Developing the ICBM.”

A major problem with warhead miniaturization was the bulky, heavy vacuum tube electronics of the 1950s. Microelectronics resulted in part from programs to miniaturize nuclear weapons.

The microelectronics revolution solved most technological challenges of warhead miniaturization long ago for North Korea and for all nuclear missile aspirants.

A nuclear missile warhead also needs shock absorbers to soften forces of acceleration during launching and deceleration when re-entering the atmosphere. A heat shield to penetrate the atmosphere, in order to blast a city, is also necessary — these are technologically simple and within North Korea’s capability.

Indeed, in 2013, a publicity photo by state media of North Korea’s KSM-3 satellite interior shows a shock absorber cage, allegedly for an earth observation camera but suitable for a small nuclear weapon. North Korea recently conducted another illegal missile test demonstrating a re-entry vehicle and heat shield.

The president and the press is missing, or ignoring, the biggest threat from North Korea — their satellites. On February 7, North Korea orbited a second satellite, the KSM-4, to join their KSM-3 satellite launched in December 2012.

Both satellites now are in south polar orbits, evading many U.S. missile defense radars and flying over the United States from the south, where our defenses are limited. Both satellites — if nuclear armed — could make an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could blackout the U.S. electric grid for months or years, thereby killing millions.

Technologically, such an EMP attack is easy — since the weapon detonates at high-altitude, in space, no shock absorbers, heat shield, or vehicle for atmospheric re-entry is necessary. Since the radius of the EMP is enormous, thousands of kilometers, accuracy matters little. Almost any nuclear weapon will do.

Moreover, North Korea probably has nuclear weapons specially designed, not to make a big explosion, but to emit lots of gamma rays to generate high-frequency EMP. Senior Russian generals warned EMP Commissioners in 2004 that their EMP nuclear warhead design leaked “accidentally” to North Korea, and unemployed Russian scientists found work in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The 2004 EMP Commission report warns: “Certain types of relatively low-yield nuclear weapons can be employed to generate potentially catastrophic EMP effects over wide geographic areas, and designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century.”

Such an EMP nuclear warhead could resemble an Enhanced Radiation Warhead (ERW, also called a Neutron Bomb), a technology dating to the 1950s, deployed by the U.S. in the 1980s as the W48 ERW artillery shell, weighing less than 100 pounds.

Are EMP warheads on those North Korean satellites?

The immediate focus should be on Senate passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act to protect the U.S. electric grid — not on the miniaturization problem myth.

R. James Woolsey was director of the Central Intelligence Agency and is chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.


Please note the date on this story (April 24, 2016), in other words, it’s not old news, this was published less than a month ago and the two gentlemen responsible for it are heavy-hitters, not part of the tin-foil hat brigade. This particular issue is important to me, not because I believe an attack to be imminent, but because of the devastation that could result from a nuclear EMP attack or one resulting from CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejections or solar flares) on our infrastructure – the electrical grid. The article concentrates primarily on North Korea, but Iran, China, and the Soviet Union also possess the capabilities to explode a low-yield, EMP-enhanced nuclear device high above the U.S.

Understand that we’re not talking about an inconvenience of being without electricity for a few hours. A serious attack from either nuclear or solar EMPs could fry electronics, damage major transformers and leave us without power for months. This is where it gets serious. Stop and think for a minute; what can we expect if we’re without electricity for several months.

Without electricity, ATMs wouldn’t work, computers wouldn’t work, cellphones wouldn’t work, gas stations couldn’t pump fuel and without fuel, transportation would cease. Trucks couldn’t resupply grocery stores and within a few days, the shelves would be bare. Pump stations couldn’t pump fresh water or sewage. Electrical medical devices wouldn’t work and without refrigeration, perishable medicines would spoil. No more heating or cooling of homes or businesses and without power or personnel, hospitals would be forced to close their doors. Emergency response (fire, police, ambulance) wouldn’t be available. When food, water, and communications die and there is no one to call for help, what happens?

Social chaos and violence would ensue.

That is why this issue is so important. What are the odds of a cyber attack on our grid, a multi-location physical attack, a nuclear EMP-enhanced attack or a solar-induced EMP storm? We don’t know, but when the result of such an attack can be so catastrophic, shouldn’t we be preparing for that possibility? Most experts estimate that if our electrical grid is substantially down for even several months, millions will die. Isn’t that serious enough to consider?


NOTE: If you’d like to know more about EMP’s, check out this four-part piece that I published in 2014.


Categories: General

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10 replies

  1. To your credit you’ve been on top of this threat for a long time, Garnet. It can’t be over-stated.

    I don’t know if it will be North Korea or some of other hostile state run by crazies (there’s quite a few these days) but you’d have to be a moron not to agree that a significant risk exists. It boggles the mind to think that our imbecile-run government wastes so much time and money on the climate-change bogeyman while this REAL and serious threat exists and can be mitigated with the right precautions (unlike “climate change,” which ain’t going nowhere), yet year after year we do nothing.

    It’s a sad fact of life that those who do the invaluable task of making sure we don’t suffer catastrophes are under-appreciated (which is to say they are not appreciated at all), while Bozos like Obama and dimwit celebrities are swimming in meaningless awards and undeserved appreciation for doing next to nothing. We live in messed up times.


    • Thanks CW, the disturbing thing is, our electrical grid is more at risk than ever – and we are more dependent than ever. In addition to CME (solar flares), and enhanced-EMP nuclear attack by rogue states like North Korea and Iran (and now even terrorists), we’ve now also got cyber attacks on control structures that operate the interconnections between grid components, and now physical attacks at multiple selected points of the grid can cause cascading shutdowns. There are more vulnerabilities than ever before and yet our “leaders” continue to kick the grid-protection legislation can down the road. We really DO live in messed up time.

      But never fear, when Donald Trump becomes president, he’ll fix it. [sarc]


  2. I’m fine with a nuke–if it hits just right. Insta-death? Sure. No computer? I’d rather be dead.
    I don’t doubt that one day North Korea could EMP the heck out of us. And I’m all for the government ramping up protection of our electronic grid. The only thing I have to question is whether North Korea will actually do it or not; the regime isn’t suicidal (if it were, it’d be gone by now). Though, who’s to say that won’t change?


    • Given a choice, I’d take getting fried by an explosive nuke too – rather than die a slow, agonizing death from any number of contributing factors. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve been writing about this for a number of years now and I’ve seen no appreciable movement towards protecting the grid, much less the population. Thanks for stopping by Sarah, and for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Millions would die.
    No water. No food. No medicine. No power source.
    But DC sits on their thumbs and plays polytics. We should make our electrical systmes updated.


    • It’s probably more by now, but The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates that protecting the national grid would cost the average rate payer merely 20 cents annually. That was in 2014 – but even if it’s now $1 – a whole dollar – wouldn’t it be worth it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • So why aren’t they doing it? It has been talked about by congress. Read that somewhere. I should ask my congressman. A lot he’ll do. I get these form letters from him and my senators…although Senator Toomey is up for re-election….


      • I know that was a rhetorical question tannngl – you know why – it would take diverting a few million dollars from each of a number of “pet” projects that are slated to help some congressperson get reelected. A bridge to nowhere, a study of the mating habits of snails, and other really important expenditures.


  4. Every time I see headlines about him, I wonder when the chest-thumping and the saber-rattling changes to the little hitler pushing the button. He’s killed thousands of his own people, so aiming our own weapons at him wouldn’t cause him concern. By now we should have given him a little nudge that said don’t mess with us, but this administration prefers to stay on the defensive rather than showing our strength.

    If climate change was a real concern, the government would be bolstering and protecting our electrical grids, because a hit on them would be climate change on steroids.


    • Estimates I’ve seen vary, but the highest costs (not the cheapest) are estimated to be $10 to $20 billion over 10 years – or an average of $1 to $2 billion/year – about the amount that Obama spent on Ebola already. Plus in 2014, he was asking for another $6 billion in emergency funds to fight Ebola in the U.S. and another $2 billion to help West Africa. In all, we treated EIGHT patients in the U.S., only TWO died. Elsewhere, over 11,300 died from Ebola in West Africa.

      But, we can’t spare a few billion to protect our 318,000,000 citizens by hardening our electrical grid??????

      When will we FINALLY put some adults in charge?


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